All countries must be given access to safe and effective coronavirus vaccine once it is developed to address the pandemic, President Duterte said in his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Amid the global race to find the vaccine, the President called for the “universal access” to the coronavirus vaccine and essential technologies for treatment, saying these must neither be denied nor withheld.

“Ensuring universal access to anti COVID-19 technologies and products is pivotal in the global pandemic recovery,” Duterte said in a pre-recorded message at the first day of the virtual UN assembly.

“The world is in the race to find a safe and effective vaccine. When the world finds that vaccine, access to it must not be denied nor withheld. It should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy,” he said.

He said the Philippines joins the mounting collective voice that the potential coronavirus vaccine must be considered “a global public good.”

The President also pushed for stronger international cooperation in addressing the pandemic. He said the coronavirus knows no border, nationality, race, gender, age, and creed.

“While each nation has its own strategy in fighting the pandemic, what the world needs are coordinated international plans and efforts to pursue a common purpose,” he said

The President also pressed for a global health agenda with enough resources and policy space for the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the world needs the WHO to be “quick to coordinate and quicker to respond.”

“The Philippines will do its part in the pooling of global resources. Our health workers are among the best,” he added.

He said the country also values the United Nations role in the fight against the pandemic, and welcomes its COVID response and recovery fund. He admitted that the country has fallen into recession after the pandemic derailed its economic advances.

The new coronavirus disease, which first broke out in China in late December, 2019, had so far infected more than 31 million people across the globe. The global death toll has risen to more than 970,000.

President Duterte has offered the country’s sympathies over the coronavirus deaths.

“In the light of the realities of the present, the Philippines grieves with all of the families all over the world who lost their loved ones to this horrible virus. We extend our heartfelt condolences,” he said.

Duterte, likewise, paid tribute to the frontliners, including healthcare workers battling the dreaded disease.

“We salute all frontliners who put their lives on the line even in countries not their own,” he said.

“So also do we honor and recognize the healthcare professionals who selflessly answered the call to combat the COVID-19 pandemic despite its virulence and unknown characteristics,” he added.



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